As many of us are aware, taking summer classes can be a good way for students to accelerate their studies or lessen the credit load for fall and spring semesters. But, what if they can’t afford to do so? In a report released in August by the Community College Daily, representatives from several community colleges across the U.S. expressed relief and overwhelming positivity toward the new Pell grant expansion.
The year-round Pell was previously available during the 2009-2011 academic years. Congress restored it this May, allowing it to go into effect as of July 2017, though many community colleges were not able to offer Pell grants this summer because most students had already completed their financial aid applications when the year-round Pell was approved. It seems that most colleges are ready to offer the Pell for summer of 2018.
Leslie Buse, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) said that having summer Pell grants to look forward to “opens up a whole new avenue of relief for students. ” She referenced one student who had been at a four-year college, didn’t graduate and enrolled at NICC to get some job skills but is carrying a large amount of student debt. “It becomes so stressful for students trying to figure this out,” she said.
The year-round Pell can especially be of use to older, working students who are enrolled in career and technical programs. Having to take the summer off means more time needed in the long run to complete a program. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, chancellor of the West Virginia Community and Technical College System said that not being able to offer the Pell Grant year-round has negatively impacted industry partners, or, employers of their graduates. “They have a need for employees all year; it’s not based on the academic calendar,” said Tucker, who emphasized the point during a Senate hearing this spring.
A report released this summer by the Community College Research Center shows that summer enrollment increased by 27 percentage points for each $1,000 of year-round Pell grant funding per student. This is particularly significant since the completion rate for associates degree has shown to increase by 2.2 percentage points since the re-institution of the year-round Pell.
The full report is available to read on Community College Daily's website.